Hammond earned another crack at Orangeburg Prep with a 49-28 win over Porter-Gaud in the first round of the SCISA Class 3A football playoffs.
The Skyhawks (9-3) head to the Garden City on Friday to face the 11-1 Indians, who blanked Hammond 20-0 early in the season. It was the statement win senior-dominated OP was hoping to get. The Tribe, coached by former Hammond assistant Adam Holmes, have stumbled only against unbeaten Wilson Hall.
Hammond is a much improved team since the last meeting, sporting a new defensive approach and a balanced offensive scheme that features running back T.J. Brady and rotating quarterback Davis King and Nick Garrett.
The Skyhawks’ emerging defensive leader is linebacker D’Andre Lee-Smith who rang up nine tackles, two sacks, one TFL and had an interception return touchdown last week against Porter-Gaud. Hammond had four takeaways in the game. Max Woodburn, a two-way player, had a strong game on defense with five tackles, one interception and three PBUs.
Brady and King powered the Skyhawks on offense. Brady took over the Midlands rushing lead with a 193-yard, four-touchdown performance. He junior star has 1,6668 yards and 26 TDs on the board. King, who played an entire game for the first time since September, was 14-for-23 passing for 145 yards and one touchdown. The scoring pass was caught by Clemson-bound tight end Cannon Smith.
If Garrett plays this week, he brings a running threat Davis does not possess.
OP displays admirable offensive balance. Quarterback Marion McCurry is 130-for-207 passing for 2,332 yards and 25 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Michael Pascoe headlines the running game with 1,395 yards and 13 TDs. The top receiver is Derek Andrews, who has 59 grabs for 1,488 yards.
Reeves Connelly (159 tackles, 5 TFL) and Will Reynolds (123 tackles, 6 TFL) are the search-and-destroy men on defense.
The Indians have not made it to the SCISA championship game since 1995 and haven’t won it all since 1994.